File photo. Photograph:( Others )
The quake, described as 'moderate', was eight kilometres (five miles) deep and was followed by four aftershocks.
At least five people lost their lives and 120 were injured after an earthquake of 5.9-magnitude struck northwestern Iran on Friday.
The quake struck the 120 kilometres (75 miles) southeast of the city of Tabriz, in East Azerbaijan Province in the early hours of the day. It was also followed by four aftershocks.
Local media reports said that the tremor was relatively strong and caused many people to run out of their homes in panic in the middle of the night.
According to a report, at least 30 houses had been destroyed. Authorities are conducting rescue operations in over 40 villages.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) issued an alert warning that "significant casualties are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread".
Iran sits where two major tectonic plates meet and experiences frequent seismic activity.
The country has suffered a number of major disasters in recent decades, including at the ancient city of Bam, which was decimated by a catastrophic earthquake in 2003 that killed at least 31,000 people.
In 1990, a 7.4-magnitude quake in northern Iran killed 40,000 people, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless, reducing dozens of towns and nearly 2,000 villages to rubble.
Iran has experienced at least two other significant quakes in recent years -- one in 2005 that killed more than 600 people and another in 2012 that left some 300 dead.
(With inputs from agencies)